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ARKO Selection’s February performances offer contemporary twist on classics

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Jan. 26, 2024 - 15:43

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Posters for Posters for "Salome" (Arts Council Korea)

ARKO Selection will unveil its third set of productions in early February, offering two traditional performances, one musical, one dance performance and one music concert, which reinterpret classics and transcended traditions.

Such works are among the 28 new repertoires funded by Arts Council Korea, an organization committed to fostering diverse arts and cultural activities in the country.

The male "changgeuk" performance, "Salome," which is a reinterpretation of Oscar Wilde's play "Salome," takes place from Feb. 2 to 4. Changgeuk, the Korean version of opera, derives from Korea's traditional narrative singing form called Pansori. It was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003.

The show stars pansori singers such as Kim Jun-soo, Yu Tae-pyung-yang and Kim Soo-in, where Kim Jun-soo and Yoon Je-won have both been cast for the role of Salome.

Notable creative talents, including screenwriter Koh Sun-woong, choreographer Shin Seon-ho and fashion designer Lie Sang Bong, also participated in the show's creative team.

"If the original ‘Salome’ is about obsession and madness, this reinterpretation looks into (the desires of) contemporary society," said director Kim Si-hwa during a press conference on Thursday.

A rehearsal for A rehearsal for "Bamjje" (Arts Council Korea)

“Bamjje,” which takes place from Feb. 2 to 3, is a new work by the eight-member traditional band, Bulsaechul. The performance is part of a series exploring “gut,” a shaman ritual that is also a comprehensive art form merging traditional music, dance and singing. “Bamjje” focuses on the "okugut," a type of gut that was once popular on the country's east coast.

Bae Jeong-chan of Bulsaechul, a "jangu" player and a singer, said, “Nowadays, the culture of performing gut when someone has passed away has almost disappeared. We hope to remember the culture of bidding farewell to the dead, and consoling their bereaved family.”

The musical “Here, Pihwadang,” which takes place from Feb. 7 to April 14, is based on the country’s first female hero novel, “Tale of Mrs. Park.” The novel was allegedly written by an unknown writer during the Joseon Dynasty.

The musical starts with the idea that the unknown author is three women who have been taken hostages during the Qing Dynasty after a war. The women return home and start writing a novel to survive.

A scene from “A Dark Room” (Arts Council Korea) A scene from “A Dark Room” (Arts Council Korea)

Tan Tanta Dan’s “A Dark Room,” which takes place from Feb. 2 to 4, is a dance performance that depicts humans losing their sense of existence.

The dancers, whose faces and shapes are unrecognizable as they are disguised by costumes, express the loss of individualism and self-esteem due to competition, and the sense of alienation that comes from unstable relationships.

“UN/Readable Sound,” which also takes place from Feb. 2 to 4, is a work that conveys new sensations and emotions through the vibrations generated by sound. A trailblazer in the Korean electronic music scene, Gazaebal (whose real name is Lee Jin-won), creates a unique atmosphere and message through “audio-visual” elements combining sound with visual aspects, such as graphics, video and lighting.